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April 30, 2011

McGary shines at Jayhawk Invite

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Friday night at the Jayhawk Invitational has become something hoops fans in Lawrence look forward to each year. Held on the campus of Haskell Indian Nations University, the Jayhawk has always scheduled a showcase that draws a pretty involved crowd. Shabazz Muhammad didn't disappoint, while Mitch McGary finished the night the way he played last weekend in Akron: impressively.

Friday night notables

Mitch McGary, C/PF, SYF Players- Skilled and athletic in the paint, the 6-foot-10 McGary has advanced his game further than just about any prospect in the last year. An offensive-minded guy, he's the rare big guy who is already comfortable playing facing or with his back to the basket. He rebounds, runs the floor and is a pretty good rim protector defensively. The Indiana native made the move of the night when he caught on the right block, gave a fake to his right shoulder and then spun to his left to swish a right-handed jump hook from 8 feet. He's left-handed, folks.

Chris Thomas, SG/PG, Colorado Hawks- There were some signs of wobbly legs after he spent 8-plus hours riding in a van to get to Lawrence. But, when the powerful 6-foot-4 combo guard got his feet under him and attacked the basket, good things happened. Explosive when turning corners, Thomas is powerful off the dribble and is up and down with his jump shooting.

Shabazz Muhammad, SF, Dream Vision- The 6-foot-5 rising senior was his usual self on Friday night. He hits spot-up jumpers, is at his best in transition and can post up or do damage along the baseline. There's no shake and bake to his game, but there is plenty of catch and find a way to score.

Perry Ellis, PF, Pray and Play- The 6-foot-8 four man plugged along and made the most of his night. Dream Vision had the opportunity to throw quick length - Winston Shepard - at him on the perimeter and sheer size - Robert Carter - at him on the interior. He still used his speedy left hand control dribble drives, made some crafty finishes and used his ability to run the floor to sprint for dunks. Ellis is working to figure out how to deal with opponents with greater length.

Winston Shepard, F, Dream Vision- It was one of the best performances we have seen out of the 6-foot-7 forward in a while. When he's active and engaged on defense he is a disruptive and versatile guy. He can rebound, is good on drives to the rim and is a willing playmaker. When he focuses on playing with energy on the glass and defense, his offense seems to come along.

Robert Upshaw, C, Dream Vision- Upshaw isn't just 6-foot-10, he plays to every bit of that size, if not bigger, and is a true back-to-the-basket five-man. The junior isn't a speed merchant, but he's a terrific low post defender, has some soft touch on offense and plays hard. Most importantly, he's a scrapper and there isn't anybody near him getting a rebound in his area unless they can beat him in a street fight. When asked to list the schools that came out to watch him during the recent evaluation period Upshaw answered, "I honestly don't remember." He also noted that he was "entirely open" in the recruiting process.

Nino Jackson, PG, Compton Magic- Many are going to debate whether he's a point or a two. Bottom line, he's a blur with the ball who can shake a defender. It's after he loses his man, though, where Jackson most has a chance to elevate his game. He's learning to be a little more controlled coming out of his first step and it's allowing him to finish with more regularity. Jackson is a bit wild, but his athleticism and creativity leave him with a high ceiling.

Zach Lofton, SG, Net Gain Sports- For now, the 6-foot-2 Lofton should be considered a member of the class of 2011. However, he is leaning toward attending prep school unless he can find the right college option. A strong driver, he's all about getting to the rim and has a feel for finishing when he gets there. A pretty good athlete who can also defend, he puts pressure on defenders.

Sam Dekker, SF, Playground Warriors- He looks pretty close to his listed 6-foot-7 height and made plays around the rim because of his willingness to go to the offensive glass for tips. Dekker can also shoot with range and is a fine pickup for Wisconsin.


Final Friday night notes

The Kansas City Keys took it on the chin pretty badly, but combo guard Shaquille Harrison is a Division I prospect. A long and slender 6-foot-1 combo guard, the junior at Lee's Summit (Mo.) West is a creator off the dribble and anticipates passing lanes on the defensive end. … Kingdom Hoops guard Cole Myers is fun to watch. The 6-foot point guard is a hard-nosed kid who can knock down the open jumper and he runs his offense. … Kansas City Pump 'N Run lost on a buzzer-beating tip by Net Gain Sports guard Zach Lofton, but Gavin Thurman had some nice moments. A thin 6-foot-6 four-man, he is skilled offensively and would be able to play the three if he gets a little quicker laterally. He is excellent in transition where he catches from 20 feet and makes jump shots or passes off the dribble. Thurman is most likely transferring to Wichita (Kan.) Heights for his senior year where he would join Perry Ellis to form a high-scoring frontcourt. … Johnny Woodard has always been a pretty strong wing. However, the 6-foot-4 small forward from Duluth (Minn.) East was shooting well from deep for Net Gain Sports on Friday night. …

Cameron Golden is going to have a lot of coaches spend a lot of time evaluating him. Playing for a thrown together Compton Magic team, the Memphis native did a good job of finding spots on the floor and knocking down long jumpers. … It's always interesting to see how much added strength can give a young player more confidence. That's the case with 6-foot-5 wing Glenn Robinson III. The Michigan pledge has always shown offensive flashes, but now he's broadened out and strengthened through the shoulders. As a result, he's more aggressive going toward the bucket and can play more of an attacking offensive game. … {db]Marcus Holt[/db] will attend a prep school next season and the product of Colorado will be evaluated by power mid-majors and some high-majors. The 6-foot-9 power forward is thin, but he runs very well, has sure hands and shows some skill on the offensive end. Most importantly, he's always working his way to the rim, which is a very positive trait in a young big man prospect. …

Finally, Treshawn Bolden from the class of 2013 already has a high-major body and athleticism. The 6-foot-7 power forward is strong, has good length and likes to play physical.


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